Three Pepperdine women's volleyball players, Tarah Wylie,
Hana Lishman and Jasmine Gross, were recently invited to try out for the U.S.
Women's National Team in Colorado Springs. They shared with us their experience
at the tryouts and updated us on what the team is doing in the coming months:
Q: You all were recently received invite to try out for
the U.S. Women's National Team. How did you all feel to be invited?
Wylie: It was amazing to know that Pepperdine
would help us grow in our sport through this opportunity.
Lishman: The most exciting part of getting the
invitation was hearing and knowing that Pepperdine was there to support us with
this awesome experience. Pepperdine gave us and allowed us to have this
opportunity to continue our career and grow in our sport.
Gross: I felt excited and grateful that
Pepperdine was able to give me the opportunity to go after my goals and they
were supportive in that.
Q: Describe the experience from day one through the
Wylie: We had four tryout sessions throughout
three days. One on the first day, two on the second, and one on the third. It
was mostly competition-based except for the first 30 minutes of every session
where we got to warm up by positions. One of the coolest parts of this
experience was having the opportunity to talk to other players from the West
Coast Conference. I have friends on some of the teams we play against, but not
many, and it was really special to form relationships with people I normally
only see across the net.
Lishman: There were different
sessions throughout the day. I was in the 6 o'clock session, while Tarah and
Jasmine were in the 4 o'clock. While waiting, I walked around the training
center, explored and met new girls from many different schools. On that first
day of the tryout, we did some quick warm-up drills for passing, serving and
hitting. Then the last hour or so of the session was playing games and wash
drills. Throughout the entire tryouts, each session was about the same. Another
cool thing about this tryout was meeting new people from other schools that we
wouldn't normally come across. Also,
becoming good friends with the girls on teams that are in our conference was
really fun. Normally, because we play against each other, we would be
"rivals," but at the tryouts, that was set aside and it was very cool
getting to know them and become good friends.
Gross: We got off the plane and went straight to the training camp, where
we got room assignments and meal cards. One of my roommates played for BYU and
the other one played for Michigan. Then we went to our first session where they
separated each player by position using different colored shirts. Then we got
into playing for about two hours. Then we went to dinner, took showers and got
ready for the next day of tryouts. We did some skills like serving, passing and
some hitting lines. Then we just competed by doing different scrimmage games. I
had played against and with many of the girls throughout my club career. I
played in the Under Armour All American game my senior year, so most of the
girls who played in that match with me were at the tryout as well. The volleyball
world is very small so all three of us knew many people.
Q: How did it make you feel to try out for a spot to
compete on the national team, or on one of the three collegiate teams?
Lishman: While traveling there, the
nerves were building up because I was very excited and anxious for the
weekend. I had no idea what to
expect. As each session went on, the
nerves went away and the motivation and passion as to why I love and play this
sport came pouring out. Realizing I was
there at the Olympic Training Center, trying out for the National Team was
overwhelming, but a dream come true.
Gross: It was a great experience, but it really
humbled me by showing me how much work I still have left to do to reach my goal
of being on the national team.
Q: Give us a final thought on your experience in Colorado
Wylie: It was our first experience with USA Volleyball
and I know we were all excited to play and be noticed. It was a great
opportunity for all of us and I am grateful that we get to grow our careers
Lishman: Being given the chance to
represent my school, where I'm from, my coaches, and even my family was a great
experience and opportunity.
It was a great experience and I am hoping to try out again in the next
Q: You lost one of your assistant coaches a few weeks ago.
Do you have any words of encouragement for Alex Dunphy, who has joined Minnesota's
Wylie: Alex Dunphy was one of the biggest
reasons I came to Pepperdine and I have the upmost respect for her. She is a
wonderfully talented coach and an even better person, so I know she will do
nothing but be a star at Minnesota. They will soon figure out, if they haven't
already, what an incredible asset she is for any program.
Lishman: Alex Dunphy was and still
is an awesome coach. She knew how and when to be fun, but also knew how to be
serious and get work done. She definitely made my freshman year experience memorable
and manageable because she was constantly there to help me with not only
volleyball, but school and life as well. I know she will do great things at
Minnesota just as she did here at Pepperdine. I appreciate all she has done for
my team and I, and I am very excited to see her accomplish new things!
Gross: I have already told Alex this, but we
all miss her a lot. We know she has a great opportunity in Minnesota and we are
all very excited to see her do big things.
Q: Now, how did you react learning that a Pepperdine Hall
of Famer and former All-American, Julie (Rubenstein) Bennett, would be joining
the coaching staff?
Wylie: When I first learned about Julie Bennett
coming back to Pepperdine to coach us, I was excited to learn from a great
player and Hall of Famer. Now I consider her a friend and she fits in with our
team so well. I am looking forward to our time together!
Lishman: When I heard we had a new
assistant, I, alongside my teammates, were thrilled. When we found out who it
was, we were even more stoked because some, if not most, of us knew Julie and
knew she was a great player here at Pepperdine.
With the time that I have had with her so far, she has already helped me
in many ways with volleyball, and I am looking forward to more practices and
seasons with her.
We are still in the process of getting to know Julie, and she has been
so awesome. She brings new and helpful feedback as well as a great personality,
so we are super stoked to have her.
Q: What are you doing in the off-season?
Wylie: The off-season is a busy time of the
year for our team right now as we are currently in 20 hours. We are working
hard every day to improve our team physically and mentally. It's an honor to be
growing closer with my teammates every day and seeing them grow as people and
Lishman: Off-season is our big
training season. We have practice at 6:30 a.m. every morning, then lifting or
conditioning following that. I really
like spring training because it is a chance for our team to get strong,
practice hard, improve and do whatever we can to prepare for our upcoming
season, especially summer.
Gross: Right now we are practicing every day
from 6:30 to 8:30 a.m. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays we have lifting. On
Tuesdays and Thursdays, we have conditioning. We have a few spring matches as
well. We played CSUN at Pepperdine a few weekends ago and we play at USC for a
spring tournament on April 1st.
Q: The summer is coming up soon! Do you have any big
summer our team is going on a European Tour and I could not be any more
excited. This will be a summer for the books. I get to play volleyball while
traveling the world with my best friends and I am looking forward to seeing how
our team matches up to the international teams we will compete against.
Lishman: This summer, our team will be traveling to Europe to play
some professional teams. We leave May
22, and are going to many different cities and countries such as Milan, Venice,
Czech Republic, Austria and Slovenia. We are all very excited for this trip
because many of us haven't been out of the country yet and this is a great time
for our team to come together and go through this life-changing experience that
some of us may never have the chance to do again.
Gross: We are going to Europe as a team to play
at the end of May. This is very exciting for us and we are really looking
forward to not only expanding our view on the world, but expanding our
volleyball skills as well.